The Red Devils' 2015 season came to an end here last Friday night in a 10-7 loss to Mt. Zion. Lincoln County finishes the year at 9-2, its best since 2012.
Looking to 2016, the Red Devils will return most of their team. The Class A landscape looks to be changed significantly with larger schools like Washington-Wilkes and Greene County added. Region assignments will be announced in December, with plans finalized in January. Class A will remain split between public and private schools. Playoffs will be expanded from 16 to 24 teams in each group.
The Devils outgained Mt. Zion 249-151 but three turnovers and two missed field goals led to their exiting the playoffs in the first round for the third consecutive year.
Quay Hartfield led the Devil offense Friday with 123 rushing yards on 22 carries. Javon Reid rushed nine times for 73 yards. Reid completed two of seven pass attempts for 16 yards and two interceptions.
For the season, Hartfield ran 143 times for 944 yards and a dozen touchdowns. Jamal Norman carried 97 times for 596 yards and six TDs. Reid completed 43 of 72 pass attempts for 536 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Parks caught eight passes for 161 and Midarius Roberts caught six for 158; both had two receiving touchdowns.
The first-round playoff match-up started off well for the Devils as Midarious Roberts returned the opening kickoff 23 yards. A fumble at midfield was returned by the Eagles to the LC 17 but an illegal block gave Mt. Vernon the pigskin at the LC 42. Three plans gained no yards and the Eagles punted.
The Devils began at their eight with Hartfield breaking lose for 37 yards up the middle to the Eagle 47. The drive was stopped on downs at the 41.
Keyshawn Martin sacked the Eagle quarterback on fourth down at midfield to end the next Eagle effort. The two teams exchanged punts as neither defense was giving up much.
The Devils took over at their 31 and Hartfield had another good run of 24 yards. He broke two tackles and spun around once to reach the Eagle 42. Tydarius Elam rushed for five before Reid gained eight on the ground. The drive ended when Mt. Zion intercepted at their two.
The Devil Defense again did its job to force one of seven Eagle punts in the game. The Devils started at their 46 and earned two first downs to the 22. Three plays left the Devils a yard short of a first down at the 13. A 30-yard field goal attempt went wide left with 2:28 left in the half.
A 31-yard pass and a 19-yard run moved the Eagles to the LC 7 before two passes fell incomplete. A 24-yard field goal was good with seven seconds left in the second quarter. Mt. Zion led 3-0 at the half.
The Devil Defense forced a punt on the Eagles' first possession of the second half. Big Red took over at the Eagle 48. Five-yard runs by Hartfield and Reid gained a first down at the 35. Three plays later an interception ended the threat.
Each team punted on their next possessions, but the Eagles muffed the Devil punt with David Byrne recovering at the Eagle 30. Hartfield rushed for 11 to the 19, followed by a 4-yard rush by him. He then ran for eight for 1st-and-goal at the 7. Reid rushed for three, followed by a 1-yard run by Norman and a 2-yard run by Hartfield. On 4th-and-goal at the 1, Hartfield scored on the first play of the fourth quarter. Ryan O'Neill's PAT kick gave the Devils a 7-3 lead.
Unfortunately the joy on the Devil side of Larry Campbell Stadium was short-lived. The Eagles broke loose on the kickoff return before the Devils knocked the returner out-of-bounds around the LC 30. A penalty pushed the Eagles back to the LC 40. A 19-yard pass earned a first down at the LC 25. The Eagles ran for 16 for 1st-and-goal at the LC 7. Three plays led to fourth down at the one. The Eagles ran up the middle for the touchdown with 8:03 left in the game. The kick gave the visitors a 3-point lead, 10-7.
The two teams again exchanged punts with the Devils taking over on thir 44 with 3:28 left. Reid ran for 21 yards to the Eagle 35. After two incomplete passes, Reid ran for six to setup 4th-and-4 at the 29. Reid took the snap and ran left, but then cut back against the grain and behind his blockers for a 24-yard gain to the five.
Two attempts by Hartfield gained nonthing before Reid rushed for three. Facing 4th-and-goal at the 2 with just under a minute left, the Devils opted for the short field goal to tie the game. The kick went just wide right leaving the Devils down by 3 with 0:53 left. The Eagles twice took a knee to secure the playoff win 10-7. Mt. Zion will travel to Twin City to play ECI this Friday.
The GHSA has released class assignments for 2016-2018, and the upper limit for Class A was increased to 520.
That means teams like Washington-Wilkes, Greene County, Bowdon, Wesleyan, and Darlington will be in Class A for the next two football seasons. Lincoln County has an FTE of 376 compared to 453 for W-W and 520 for Holy Innocents'.
The next big step is putting the schools into regions. Being only 19 miles apart, Washington-Wilkes and our Devils will certainly be in the same region. The question is what that region will look like. Will it be like the current 7-A and stretch from the Savannah River to Macon? Or will the Tigers and the Devils move into 8-A, the northeast Georgia grouping. Or, one statistical analysis showed that the optimum alignment based on distances and FTEs would be most of the current 7-A subregion B joining the region that includes ECI and Johnson County (south and west of Lincolnton).
you plan your work vacation days to coincide with long Red Devil road trips.
you know how to get to small towns in Georgia like Homerville, Folkston, and Colquitt
you catch yourself humming the Lincoln County fight song when you're not even at a Red Devil game
your 911 address marker has a LC star on it.
you and your significant other won't speak to each other the week of the LC-WW game, simply because she is from "there".
you ARE a Red Devil if you grew up on Sunrise Drive with the likes of Thomas Bunch, Larry Campbell, Jimmy Smith, Mack Matthews, Neil Amason, Kermit Adams, Donnie Hill, "Ham" Willingham, Omar Beggs, "Sting Dawkins", etc. There were alot of good players and true contributors to the program that grew up on Sunrise Dr. with all those good men and women keeping an eye out.
you hold your dear aunt's funeral at noon on Friday so that everyone can leave for Atlanta to be at the Dome the next day for a Devil game.
your 3-year-old daughter's favorite saying is Get'em Devils!